I remember it as if it was yesterday: I was a fourth grader, trading Spice Girls cards during class breaks, watching way more TV than any kid should, when I saw the Spice Girls’ “Move Over” music video during the Super Bowl, in which the pop phenomenon shook their groove things in front of a Pepsi banner. From then on, no matter the place, my drink of choice was a “diet Pepsi”. I was The Next Generation, as the ad emphasized, and I drank Pepsi because it was cool, hip and [I believed] tasted better than a Coke.
Each Soda Magnate spends fortunes trying to differentiate its respective brand, but when broken into its simplest parts, both Pepsi and Coke are composed of sugar (or aspartame in a Diet), water and caramel color.
I drank Pepsi up until university, where it just so happened that Coca-Cola supplied the entire campus. I still drank Pepsi often when I went out, but eventually started viewing the two as substitutes, happily switching between ordering a Pepsi or a Coke based on availability. Since starting at Ogilvy last June, where Coke is also the supplier, I continued to consume Coca-Cola products daily – by default.
To explain this recount of my childhood soft-drink consumption: I realized yesterday, as I sat on a plane killing the last twenty minutes of the ride while drinking a diet Coke, that I cannot remember the last time that I drank a Pepsi; I have become a loyal Coca-Cola drinker. And I’m not the only one. In fact, Karl Lagerfeld drinks 10 cans of Diet Coke per day.
While many view brand loyalty as the result of successful advertising (it very often is), in which case the consumer becomes loyal to the brand, in this experience, my brand loyalty to Coca-Cola is the inevitable result of Coca-Coca’s loyalty to me. Coca-Cola has been the main supplier of beverages in many places I’ve been, thus I have come to view Coca-Cola as a reliable, consistent choice. Of course, not every brand has Coca-Cola’s market power, but this example shows the obvious influence of distribution, and the importance of a brand’s commitment to its consumers, especially with substitute products.